The rain-swept hillsides of Cwm Risca Farm in south Wales are swathed in lush blankets of green clover and dotted with sheep enjoying a hearty meal.
“In this part of Wales, we have a lot of rain, which means we can grow fantastic grass,” says sheep farmer Jacob Anthony from Glamorgan, Wales. “You won’t find it much greener anywhere else, and I’m a huge believer in leaving the animals to enjoy it. Whenever we can, we let our ewes lamb outside, to keep things as natural as possible.”
Cwm Risca has been in the Anthony family since 1926 – and today Jacob, 26, lives in the farmhouse with his parents Peter and Emma, younger sister Tabitha, and grandfather David, who was awarded an MBE for services to agriculture.
“My grandfather is 87, but still farms every day, doing what he loves,” Jacob says. “There’s something special about farming – it’s not a job, it’s a way of life. When I was little, I spent every waking hour I could on the farm with my father or grandfather. Since I could walk and talk, there’s nothing I’ve wanted to do but follow in their footsteps.”
The most important part of his job is keeping his animals fit and healthy.
“Something we do better in the UK than anywhere else in the world is looking after our animals. We’re hugely proud of our high welfare standards, which we take very seriously.
"If a lamb is orphaned at birth, we have to hand-rear them on a bottle. When you’re feeding a lamb three or four times a day, you give them a name. Then you get emotionally attached and they become part of the furniture.
“We often end up keeping them as pets. It’s not great for business, but you’ve got to have some heart in this job, otherwise you shouldn’t be doing it. And what’s a couple of extra sheep to keep when you’ve already got a thousand?”
Jacob is committed to preserving his farm and its land for generations to come. “I want my grandchildren to be farming here, and to make sure Cwn Risca will be sustainable for future generations. We farm with the land in mind – there are certain fields where we won’t spread fertiliser, we fence off hedgerows and woodland to protect them, and have planted a lot, too.
“When the sun’s gleaming and you see lambs frolicking around, when you get to work with your family in this beautiful countryside – that’s when you look around and think, ‘This is what everything is for.’ It makes it all so worthwhile.”